Beware the Rides of March

Them's the Brakes

I caught up with Porter where the trail widened and we slowly rode up the remainder of the Third Sister. I could see Bob up at the gap, off his bike and waving at us. When we reached the top, he said, "I was getting ready to come back looking for you."

"Porter got chain suck," I said, "but I think it's okay now."

"I wish my butt was okay," Porter said.

"Which one?" Bob asked.

"Very funny. I'm serious. I can tell I haven't ridden in a long time. How much farther we got?"

"We're a little over halfway through. The worst part's behind us," Bob said.

"You got that right," Porter said. "Let's take a break here and eat something."

We put our bikes off the trail and walked to where a rock outcrop gave a great view across the Blue Ridge Mountains. From where we stood, the mountains looked like waves rolling in to a beach. Vultures caught thermals rising off the slope beneath us, soaring so close we could hear the wind hissing across their wings. "For being such an ugly bird," I said, "they sure can fly."

"Okay, cowboys," Bob said, "let's mount up and move. We've got more sisters to meet and it looks like we could get some rain before it's all over."

As we started our descent, Porter's brake pads broke the silence with a sound reminding me of an irritated turkey. Wawk! Wawk! Wawk! Wawk! Wawk! When we reached bottom, Porter said, "Hold up and let me take a look at these brakes. I can't stand that sound."

Suddenly, we all heard another sound... the disheartening sound of air rapidly escaping a bike tire. Almost as soon as we found the source—Porter's front tire—it was flat.

"What now?" Porter almost cried.

Bob and I leaned our bikes against trees off the trail and walked over to where Porter stood looking down at his brakes. "The pads got turned and rubbed the sidewall of the tire. Not only do I have a flat tube, but my tire's shot!" He looked like he wanted to fling his bike down in disgust.

"Hold on, Kemosabe," Bob said. "Let's don't shoot Trigger just yet."

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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